Presenting help wanted

June 8, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

From the few presentations that I’ve done, I find that the single most useful tool that allows you to do a natural talk, instead of ‘going through a deck of slides’, is having a wireless presenter to click through. Not having to stand near your PC and being able to walk around and gesticulate makes for such a more flowing talk, for me it enables me to tell a story rather than explain slides. I take it I’m not unique in this respect, which is why I find it astounding that there doesn’t seem to be a real market for such devices. Sure, Logitech makes one model. One, as opposed to, what, 30 different mice. And then on the other end of the scale there’s companies like Targus that make really crappy devices. Now, to enlarge my amazemCheap, bad, presenterent, when you look closely at these devices

  • there’s no design in the sense that anyone gave thought to ergo-dynamics or functionality
  • there’s no design in the sense that they look even mildly pleasing
  • most of these devices seem like a tv remote, only smaller
  • most of the cheaper ones still use IR in stead of radio, and I don’t think any do Bluetooth, which just seems silly

With the number of people making a (part of their) living doing presentations, you’d guess that someone would have jumped to this opportunity and created a device worth paying for. Presentation pros are bringing their own $500 wireless mics, they sure would be willing to spend on a well designed clicky thing. No one wants to be stuck behind their laptop, and no one wants their style cramped by clinging on to a clunky device that doesn’t fit one’s paw.

There’s only one candidate to do this right, really: Apple. They make the superior presentation software (are you still on Powerpoint? come on!), and their sense of style and design knowledge makes one suspect that they’d be the ones to figure out just how thing needs to be shaped and controlled. So please Mr. Jobs, tell your peeps to create a device in the $50 range that is easy to hold and use, looks nice and works like a charm. Maybe not a 100 million units to be sold, but you’d sure as hell get a big bunch of new loyalistas from the biz users.

Just my $0.02.

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10 responses to “Presenting help wanted

  1. Peter Cooper Reply

    Perhaps you could look at some of Jobs’ presentations and look at what he’s using? I’m guessing he’s probably using standard television style gear, although I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    One hackish solution I’ve seen some people use to get around the IR issue is to use their cellphones. It’s possible to rig it up so that you can control aspects of a presentation from a cell over BlueTooth, but I’ve not tried it myself.

  2. Noah Everett Reply

    I wonder if the remote that comes with the powerbook could be used to do something like this? Someone could write some software to put on the mac that could read the signals and change slides etc. I’m on a PC 99% of the time so this may be ignorance speaking.

  3. Jen Reply

    Unfortunately the Apple remote won’t work with Powerpoint out of the box which is silly. With Remote Buddy, you can do it, though. I’ve tried it and you also have to stand at a decent angle.

  4. DK Reply

    Depending on your mobile phone have a crack on Salling Clicker ( – for PC’s and Macs)…

    I use to awe and wonderment in my day to day presentations/training/speaking engagements – you can also use it to launch apps and other funky stuff also 🙂



  5. Bret Reply

    Hey, I wish I would have known you were looking at presentation devices. I have one I got for 5 bucks (after rebate) that I really like. I had it in my bag at the Dodgeball event, you could have given it a test run.

  6. Rik Reply

    Thanks for all the enthusiastic comments, folks. But.

    Peter/DK: the thing is, I don’t want to be convicted to using a phone, the whole point is that the device should have an appropriate form factor. My phone’s a razr…

    Noah/Jen: I don’t want to use the Apple remote, since you’d still have to aim. A slightly large stage could mean you’re not at a decent LOS form your mac. We need BT or radio.

    Apart from that, thanks again for the responses!

  7. kare Anderson Reply

    In the larger picture of what makes a meaningful, memorable speaker I believe it is in offering a specific insight related to one of the audience’s hot button interersts (fears or desires) characterizing it with aa word picture, best/worst case scenario, metaphor or “what if” scenario to which they can relate, acting “as if” they are ready to make the suggested change for the better.

    Follow-up with other news-you-can-use or suggestions, citing people in the audience by name as positive examples of your suggestions… even to the point of walking around and winding up near the next person you’ll mention when you get to your “punch line” – honoring thaat person by naming him or her.

    Yes to conversational rather than talking “at.” Yes to involving the audience, asking for responses that evoke their highter/smarter/better side – together.

    See some of the vidoes of speakers at The TED conference, for example.

    Two of my favorites are Bono and Larry Brilliant. They lift the audience up together – and call for specific action that can bring people closer. Now that’s the power of us

    Also see SpeakerNet fre*e newsletter by and for speakers.
    And ,to set the stage for a memoraable, meaningful meeting, see at site or blog the article Coming Backto Our Senses

  8. JR Reply

    So true! I use that logitech daily and although it is handy to have I still do not understand why that damn thing was so f’n PRICY!

  9. Nabeel Hyatt Reply

    Until a better device comes along — a cellphone actually works great.

    I use a Sony Ericsson K800i — it talks to my Macbook over Bluetooth and it comes with an app called “Wireless Presenter” which basically lets me load up Keynote and then turns the phone into a simple presenter. Any late model SonyE phone will likely come with it.

    And anyway, you need someone encouraging you to ditch that Razr.